The tragedy of offensive realism: testing aggressive power politics models

Valeriano, B. (2009) The tragedy of offensive realism: testing aggressive power politics models. International Interactions, 35(2), pp. 179-206. (doi: 10.1080/03050620902864493)

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Offensive realism is a theory of opportunistic state power maximization. States are said to always seek power so that they may dominate the international system and survive under conditions of anarchy. The theory of offensive realism is both descriptive in the sense that it suggests how states have acted in the past and prescriptive in that it suggests how states should conduct foreign policy. What remains is to empirically test the propositions that offensive realism advocates. Under such testing, we argue that offensive realism fails to accurately explain the “tragedy of great power politics.” We find that two opposing theories, one norm-based and one issue-based, perform better than offensive realism in describing the actions of major powers. If the theory fails to accurately explain past historical events, it is of little use for guiding future actions and policy.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Valeriano, Dr Brandon
Authors: Valeriano, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:International Interactions
ISSN (Online):1547-7444
Published Online:13 May 2009

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